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Motorcars return to Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY It's about a week before Christmas. And with a few days off, Micky Braun has several goals to accomplish: spend time with family and friends in Idaho, shop, write, and golf.

Braun, the frontman of Austin-by-way-of-Stanley-Idaho Americana alt-country rockers Micky and the Motorcars, has been on the road nearly nonstop in 2013. He'll cap off the year with a show at The State Room on Saturday and a big New Year's Eve bash in Boise with the other musical members of his family, including his older brothers in Reckless Kelly.

Playing on stage in front of crowds is something Micky Braun has been doing since he was 5. By the time he was 6, he and his brothers - Cody and Willy Braun (Reckless Kelly) and Gary Braun (Micky and the Motorcars) and their father, Muzzie, were on The Tonight Show.

The first time he was on, an up-and-coming Jay Leno was guest hosting in place of Johnny Carson. But less than a year later, the Braun family was back on for a second time, and young Micky Braun got to meet Johnny Carson.

"It was really an amazing experience and really cool and people ask me about it all the time, but I never get tired of telling the story," he said.

The Braun boys played a country-western act with their father, and played at a lot of state fairs and as openers for some of the day's top music stars, including Johnny Cash, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and Mark Chesnutt. Even though he was young, Micky said he still soaked in all that was happening.

"Mom and dad always made a really solid point to let us know, this is a really cool deal you're going to get to do, make sure you take some mental notes because you'll be talking about this the rest of your lives," he said.

After playing with his father and brothers for close to ten years, Willy and Cody Braun set off to Bend, Oregon to form their own band and crank up the volume a little more. Not long after, Reckless Kelly settled in Austin, Texas.

Micky and Gary finished school in Idaho before setting off on their own rock-n-roll adventure. Micky first headed to Arizona when he was 18, eventually ending up in Austin a year later with his older brothers.

Micky and the Motorcars have released five studio albums since 2003. Their latest was Raise My Glass, released in 2011. The band developed a solid fan base through touring and their array of songs about bad relationships and long road trips such as, Naive, Long Enough To Leave, Any Longer Any More, and Grow Old.

The lineup of The Motorcars has gone through several changes over the past two years. Because of that, Micky felt it was important to get a lot of shows under the band's belt to get the new members gelling before going back into the studio to cut another album.

"It really is the main reason we have not put a record out at this point, just because of the new guys coming. I just really like to play and get everybody familiar with each other and how you play and that kind of stuff before we go into the studio," he said.

Some of those shows included a wild and exhaustive tour of Germany in the fall, playing 21 shows in 22 days.

"We had a blast," Braun said, while also noting that his band's Red Dirt style of music, "goes over surprisingly well. They're huge fans of American country. For some reason they just really love anything to do with Texas in general.

"They're really into music. And they have so many questions after. They want to shake your hand. They're just really respectful," he said.

Braun said there were nights in Germany where there were standing crowds, and sit-down audiences. During the shows where the audiences remained seated, Braun said he would generally fill the set list with slower songs. But amazingly, both kinds of shows went over really well, and Braun admitted the slower shows were among his favorites.

"I actually love it. I prefer it. I feel more connected to the crowd when they're paying attention as opposed to bumping into each other and throwing beer in the air and hoopin' and hollerin'. They do that still over there, but they do it at the end of the song. So I feel like they're paying attention as opposed to hitting on the blonde at the end of the bar."

A couple of the Germany shows were recorded and could be released at a later time as a live album, he said.

The New Year's Eve show, however, is expected to be more of the rockin' variety. Saturday night's show at The State Room - one of Utah's best small concert venues - will also be a chance for the band to headline a full show for fans who attempted to see them earlier in the year. Problems at another Salt Lake City venue resulted in most of the audience missing the Motorcars set (opening for Reckless Kelly) because they were still waiting outside trying to get in.

"It's a really disappointing feeling when you're walking on," Braun said. "People travel for a really long distance to see you play. It really does bother us a lot when the club owners are leaning on you to go on stage. Man, these people drove hundreds of miles, some of them, and paid money to see us play, it's not fair for us to go on just because you set a time."

But at the same time, Braun said the band also knows who is writing the check at the end of the night.

Braun is currently have a log cabin built near Stanley, Idaho that he hopes to use as a music writing retreat. The goal is to get into the studio to record a new album by the spring and then have it released in the summer, he said.